It is windy these days, at least in Norway, it was windy too when I flew to Belgium last week, the plane was shaking and I felt the anxiety spread. I’ve never been completely comfortable with flying, who has? And now the anxiety has increased in line with a good deal of bad conscience due to climate change. It is good. It’s no shame to have a bad conscience, this means I still have a moral compass intact. Then I read the incredible; Outside there is storm, rain and snow and in the metaverse a a Norwegian Facebook group has been formed with many followers, a group who do not believe that the climate is influenced by human actions. Maybe they also think that the dog, let’s say the French bulldog, is nature’s own selective choice from wolf to dog?
I believe that our traditional stories like myths and folk tales tells about human experiences. Motifs in, for example, folk tales can come from specific events that people have experienced, so the motifs have simply been turned into a symbolic language to tell us something more eternal. The wind, among other things, is such a motive, so strong impression it must have made on people that it has been personified as the North Wind – a character with special features.
You see this for example in the folk tale called “The boy who went to the north wind (my translation of the title)” which can be found in the collection of Asbjørnsen and Moe. Here the wind takes from their people their only livelihood. The wind blows the flour out of the hands of the son in the little family. A recognizable event for everyone, for who has not felt the wind’s “roaring grip”? The son decides to travel to the north wind to get the flour back. The flour symbolizes the family’s only way of living now deprived of them.
The folk tale also tells that if you treat nature well you will get something back, as the boy does. He has entered into dialogue with nature and thus becomes rich enough to live a good life the rest of his life. The North Wind is portrayed as someone who cannot take full responsibility for his own actions, he does what is part of his nature. But he is on the young man’s side, because in the folk tale, he helps the boy to punish the elderly who only exploit the resources without giving anything back.
In another folk tale called “East of the sun and west of the moon”, the wind is also present. This time, the wind carries the protagonist the last stretch of a long journey. The North Wind falls exhausted on a beach after the long stormy journey to help a young woman. The act tells that nature is subject to human needs, but extends far to be on your side if you show respect. Of course, these motives should not be taken directly, but still there is something literal about them. They tell us about the relationship between man and nature; nature is subject to human desires and fantasies because it is told from our perspective. We tell because we need to keep track of our experiences and we need to rule over the forces of nature. But we also sees the brutality of nature by telling of the trolls that symbolize the wild and the untamed. The trolls are man’s worst enemy in folk tales, the troll is the ancient tree that casts long shadows and can break, a mountain shaped by time that can create avalanche, the furious storm that wails – these are the forces we fear and in a meeting with them we become small and insignificant.
The folk tales tell about nature disasters like in the narrative called it “The righteous coin (my translation of the title).” Here, a storm blows up when a captain decides to break a wish he has given a young boy. The storm is about to sink the ship when the captain finally changes his mind.
These narratives convey that there is a consequence between human actions and what happens in nature, nature is personalized and plays in line with the youth. What is old and the unchanging are punished. The folk tales is about the young ones, because they can see the world with a different view. Isn’t this also a image of our time, where you hold create a Facebook group to mark the power of the individual. We have always known that nature is a force in interaction with us. Nature and climate are terms and conditions created and influenced by us. We have always known that in the very heart of our folklore. Meanwhile, the young ones dare to enter the adventure.